the largest of the anthropoid apes, Gorilla gorilla, terrestrial and vegetarian, of western equatorial Africa and the Kivu highlands, comprising the subspecies G. g. gorilla(western lowland gorilla)G. g. graueri(eastern lowland gorilla) and G. g. beringei(mountain gorilla) now rare.
an ugly, brutish person.
Slang. a hoodlum or thug, especially one who threatens or inflicts violence.
1847, applied to the apes (Troglodytes gorills) by U.S. missionary Thomas Savage, from Gk. gorillai, pl. of name given to wild, hairy people in Gk. translation of Carthaginian navigator Hanno's account of his voyage along the N.W. coast of Africa, c.500 B.C.E. Allegedly an African word.